Justification of Red List Category
This species has declined rapidly since the early 1980s, and the population and range are now small, fragmented and continuing to decline. It may decline more rapidly in the future owing to the westward spread of Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscata and therefore deserves to be monitored closely. It consequently qualifies as Vulnerable.
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.
There are no new data on population trends; however, the species is still suspected to be declining rapidly, and may do so more rapidly in the future owing to the westward spread of the Pearly-eyed Thrasher.
Corvus leucognaphalus is now confined to Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the offshore islands of Gonâve, Saona and Vache (Raffaele et al. 1998, T. Brooks in litt. 2000). It was once abundant on Puerto Rico (to USA), but was last recorded there in 1977 (R. Rodriguez in litt. 2007). On Hispaniola, it was considered locally common even in the early 1980s, but there has been a subsequent population decline (to less than 10,000 individuals) and range contraction. Sizeable populations are now restricted to Los Haitises and Jaragua National Parks, and the Sierra de Baoruco in the Dominican Republic, and it remains quite common on Île-à-Vache (T. Brooks in litt. 2000).
It inhabits lowland and montane wooded regions, where it probably favours old, mature forest (Madge and Burn 1993). It is intolerant of degraded habitats or areas opened up by forest clearance (Madge and Burn 1993). The diet is mainly fruit and seeds, but also vertebrates and large insects (Raffaele et al. 1998). It nests high in large trees or palms between the end of February and May (Madge and Burn 1993, Wiley 2006).
The extinction of this species on Puerto Rico, and the more recent decline on Hispaniola, are attributed to habitat loss for timber and agricultural conversion, and hunting for food and as a crop pest. However, the species tolerates degraded habitat and it is probable that the Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus, a nest predator which spreads into degraded areas and has recently arrived on Dominican Republic and is established at Los Haitises National Park, contributed to the extinction of the crow on Puerto Rico and may accelerate its decline on Hispaniola (Wiley 2006).
Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Los Haitises, Jaragua and Sierra de Baoruco National Parks in the Dominican Republic. There are no plans to introduce the species to Puerto Rico owing to concerns about negative impacts on the Puerto Rican Parrot Amazonia vittata (R. Rodriguez in litt. 2007).
42-46 cm. Large, black crow with purplish or bluish gloss. Heavy, black bill with markedly decurved culmen. Reddish iris, but yellow also reported. Bases of neck feathers are white but this cannot be seen in field. Similar spp Smaller Hispaniolan Palm Crow C. palmarum differs in voice and stronger, more direct and less flappy flight action. Also flies higher and even soars occasionally. Nasal tufts are swept upwards and do not conceal nostrils as in C. palmarum. Voice Unusual and variable bubbling and squawking, reminiscent of chattering parrot. Also raven-like notes. Hints Usually found in pairs or small parties at fruiting trees.
Text account compilers
Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.
Rodríguez-Estrella, R., Brooks, T.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Corvus leucognaphalus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2019.